Wednesday, December 26, 2007

"A bagman's tale": a fine editorial the Washington Post left us in our Christmas stockings

On the first day back to blogging business after a wonderful Christmas the Washington Post give us a great editorial that shows us the damage that the Antonini money bag is inflicting on Argentina and Venezuela. Self inflicted wounds, do not forget. Now, for such an editorial to be published in the Post, even during the slow week of Christmas, gives you an idea on how the ignorance, manipulation and plain bad faith of Chavez and the Kirchners is affecting their international standing. That is, if the Bush administration had little to do with the indictments issued in Miami a week ago, now it will have the support of the Washington Post in helping along the investigation. Imagine that!!!!

Because this is the drama of ignorant thieves when they get caught red handed. As the Kirchners feel the bag heat searing their butts, they start badmouthing the US judicial system, for ignorance or calumny, who cares, the result is the same. That speech might score a few points for them with their audience (it seems that the US image is worse in Argentina of all LatAm countries). Maybe the naive will indeed come to think that the CIA put Antonini in that plane with 800 000 US dollars, but overseas, where it matters, Cristina K. will have four long years of no one taking her seriously. See, she does not even have a fat check book like Chavez to force her way into the social circles she would love to join of the international mighty.

A Bagman's Tale

Did Hugo Chávez purchase the allegiance of Argentina's new president?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

IT'S LONG been well known that the close relations between Venezuela and Argentina are not the result of mere ideological affinity: Under President Hugo Chávez, Venezuela has purchased some $4 billion in Argentine bonds, bailing out a government whose paper is widely shunned in international financial markets.

Now it's emerging that Mr. Chávez's personal ties to Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner also may have been fueled with petrodollars. According to a U.S. prosecutor in Florida, Venezuela's self-styled socialist revolutionary dispatched a bagman to Buenos Aires last August with $800,000 for Ms. Kirchner's election campaign. When police seized the cash-filled suitcase, assistant U.S. attorney Thomas Mulvihill said last week, Venezuelan and Argentine authorities conspired to cover up the matter by offering the intermediary $2 million in hush money.

This seamy story is coming to light because the alleged bagman, Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson, happens to be a dual U.S.-Venezuelan citizen with a home in Florida. After his bag was discovered at a Buenos Aires military airport on Aug. 4, Mr. Antonini began cooperating with U.S. law enforcement. Mr. Mulvihill said at a court hearing that numerous recorded conversations document the attempt by Venezuela and Argentina to silence Mr. Antonini, working through businessmen close to the Venezuelan government and a Venezuelan intelligence agent. Three Venezuelans and a Uruguayan were arrested in Florida on Dec. 12 and charged with being unregistered agents of the Venezuelan government; a fifth suspect is at large.

Ms. Fernández de Kirchner, who took office days before the arrests were made, replaced her husband, Néstor Kirchner, a populist who allowed Mr. Chávez to use Argentina as a staging point for anti-American demonstrations. Argentines and Americans who hoped the change of presidents would lead to an improvement in U.S.-Argentine relations are disappointed; some, demonstrating their ignorance of the U.S. legal system, blame the Bush administration for the results of a criminal investigation. The Kirchners' reaction shows that hopes for a change in Argentina's foreign policy were probably misplaced. Rather than distancing themselves from the scandal, both have joined Mr. Chávez in making wild charges about White House "dirty tricks" and a supposed Bush administration plot to subjugate Argentina.

"Relations with the United States are not good, and Argentina isn't a colony" of the United States, Mr. Kirchner declared last Tuesday, shortly after his wife conferred privately with Mr. Chávez. That, of course, doesn't answer the question many Argentines are asking -- which is whether Argentina is becoming a colony of Venezuela.

-The end-

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